Going back home from the Greek crisis

“We will only look back on the good things in your country. We will remember the Greeks who helped us and who didn’t see us as enemies, but we are leaving because there is no longer any way to earn our bread here.”

The immigrants, who had come to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) mission in the southern suburbs of Athens to apply for voluntary repatriation, were responding to our request for a brief evaluation of their experience in Greece. Most of them told us that when they arrived in the country years earlier, they were torn between feelings of fear and hope. Now the prospect of a return to earlier chapters of their lives inspires only fear.

Every day dozens of immigrants wait for repatriation documents at the IOM, and each of them has a story to tell. “The Greeks are nice and hospitable. But the economic situation in the country is not good, and in this kind of situation, people become harder,” says David Abbas: a 26-year-old who paid €4,000 to “smugglers who brought him to Greece” from Pakistan.

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